And, yet again, I find myself writing about politics. A couple of weeks ago, when I last wrote a politically-themed blog, someone told me I should get on my soapbox more often, and, for some reason, that response stuck in my head, because my metaphorical soapbox is my favourite place in the world. So *climbs onto soapbox* *raises megaphone*:
I have always strongly cared about political issues, but have never expressly been interested in politics itself. It was in the weeks leading up to the General Election that I realised the reason I hadn’t had much previous interest in politics was because there was not a political party I resonated with. I just felt that they were all variants of the same thing, that they all parroted each other’s policies in their manifestos, and were scared to say anything which could provide genuine opposition.
Labour was meant to oppose Conservatives in their ideology, yet both made promises to a) increase austerity, and b) tighten the restrictions on immigration. How can two parties oppose each other, if their campaigns are based on the same policies, and the usage of the same techniques to tackle the same issues? It felt as though the ideologies employed by political parties in the lead-up to the election were incredibly forced, and all far too similar. There were the Conservatives, who wanted to make the rich richer, the poor poorer, and prevent immigrants and asylum-seekers from entering the UK. There was Labour, who were basically watered-down Conservatives (possibly minus the part about making the rich richer). There was bloody UKIP, which was like a hardcore, neo-Nazi, even-less-credible version of the Conservatives. There were the Liberal Democrats, who were blamed for the Conservatives’ failings over the past five years, and there were the Greens, whose leader kept having “brain fade”, and then there was the SNP, who the majority of the UK couldn’t vote for, because the majority of the UK isn’t Scotland.
I, aged seventeen, was not old enough to vote in the election, but if I had been, who would I have voted for? I honestly don’t know. This generation has not yet experienced a political movement with the power to greatly move us. For the short entirety of our lives, we have had Governments who have not supported us, Governments who have not invested in our future, and Governments who have driven this country further and further towards collapse.
Over the past few days, I’ve been reading a lot of articles about the Labour leadership candidate Jeremy Corbyn, and the thing that struck me most about his political ideology is that a great deal of it actually resonates with me. I heard on the radio this morning that there have been suggestions of postponing the Labour leadership election, because Labour has gained so many new members who are not “real” Labour supporters, but apparently “militants” who want to sway Labour to the far left.
But what is actually wrong with a left-wing Labour party? Isn’t the whole point of Labour that it’s meant to be left-wing, that it’s meant to provide actual OPPOSITION to the Conservatives, rather than just mimicking their crappy policies? We need a left-wing government, we need a government which isn’t ruled by far-right fascists who want to take away our freedoms, take away public services, and alienate the majority of the population! We need to end austerity, to raise the minimum wage, to provide cheaper/free university tuition. We need to invest in the next generation, because if we don’t, we’re all going to be screwed.
Our country is not run by politicians who invest in our future; it is run by ones who invest in their own. Yet we – as we are constantly reminded by every adult responsible for our education – are the future. And what kind of future are we letting ourselves be subjected to? From a young age we are trained to pass standardised tests, to prepare ourselves for the real world. Yet no matter how “educated” we are, no matter how many tests we pass, how much money we grow up to make, we will in no way be prepared for the bright, bright future before us. Our insignificant, fleeting lives are constantly toyed with by a handful of rich men who think they can play God. The problem with thinking you’re God is that you forget what it’s like to be human.
The Conservative Government is completely out-of-touch; it doesn’t know what the people of Britain need. Is there a single political party which does? Probably not.
As long as this game of copy-cat continues, where every party resorts to borrowing each other’s policies in an attempt to people-please, we will not get the government we need. We need a government that we can invest in, a government that we can put our faith in.
The internet wonders why there has been such an influx of new members in to the Labour party since the announcement of Jeremy Corbyn’s bid for leadership? It’s because we finally have a politician that we can support. For as long as I can remember, the image of Labour has been clouded by Tony Blair and the Iraq war (not to mention the increasing decline of left-wing policies and rapid migration towards Conservatism). Now Labour has a chance to redeem itself, to step up and oppose the right-wing parties in the way that it’s meant to. If it doesn’t, if it continues to be ruled by puppet leaders parroting Conservative spiel, at least we will have learnt something from its failure: we need politicians with ideals, politicians who want to make this country better rather than worse, and we need politicians who can ignite within us the spark of ideology, the spark of revolution. Most importantly, we need politicians who are brave, who stand up to those in power. Why should we vote for people who are too scared to use the voice that we have given them? A century ago, there were so many people fighting for the right to vote, are we really honouring their memory by casting our votes into the redundancy of leaders who don’t speak up for us, who don’t defend our rights? If so, then what is the point of voting at all?